Lesley Anne Ivory is without a doubt the most talented cat artist of this generation. Her work has evolved over many years into a very recognisable genre and technique, where attention to detail is paramount to the appeal of her work. At the very core of her work Lesley Anne loves cats and her work clearly reflects this. Lesley Anne has been illustrating and painting all her life, having studied at St Albans School of Art then working as an art teacher.
How long have you been illustrating and what made you start?
From early childhood I knew I wanted to illustrate children's books. I grew up surrounded by art and books. My Mother was a textile designer, and took me to museums and art galleries regularly. The exhibition of the Ravenna Mosaics in London still remains one of my most inspiring experiences. I was totally fascinated by the little boxes of tessarae, like "paintboxes", on tables round the gallery, demonstrating the craft. Mosaics are among my favourite backgrounds for my cat paintings. I have also used Mother's fabric designs! My first published work was a Christmas card design for Oxfam in 1961, coinciding with the birth of my first son.
Where do you get your inspiration?
Everything inspires me, from a fresh blade of grass to a view with mountains! A colour will spark me off. Cats go with everything, they are works of art in themselves.
Where is your favourite place to illustrate?
All places have their own charm, you just have to sense it. Greece is wonderful, the wild flowers, old pieces of wind erased sculptures, simply asking for added texture of warm fur.
What are your illustrating/colouring material essentials?
Miniature Sable brushes and watercolours. May I add here that I use brushes where the sable hair is thoughtfully gleaned.
What’s the piece of work that you’re most proud of or enjoyed doing the most?
Impossible to answer, I enjoyed painting all of them in all their stages, from the initial spark, research, arranging the composition, drawing and painting.
A certain amount of dedication and patience is a good start! As my Father used to say to me as a child "Keep in the lines Lesley, don't rush it!" I hope all colourists will enjoy re-creating my cat paintings in their own colour choices.